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Coming to the U.S. for a Masters Program

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Coming to the U.S. for a Masters Program

Many decisions accompany the choice to get a graduate degree. One decision is picking the university to complete your master's program. There are many graduate programs throughout the world, but many people decide to go to the United States. Wherever you decide to go, you'll want to receive a quality education from a respected university. There are several schools in the U.S. that can provide just that. According to Tanya Abrams of The New York Times, the U.S. is a popular choice for many people: "More international students attended United States colleges and universities in the 2011-12 school year than ever before." If you're thinking about getting a graduate degree in the U.S., here's some helpful information.

Great Schools

The United States is home to many of the top universities in the world. With well-known and highly regarded universities such as Princeton, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and more, the United States boasts a large number of quality institutions. Employers will take notice when they see an applicant with a master's degree from a U.S. university.

Many of the graduate programs in U.S. universities are highly customizable. The flexible but rigorous coursework provided by most of these schools ensures you will get the education you need to succeed when you finish your degree.

Finding the Right School

A graduate program will work best if you fit well into the school, and enjoy the time you spend there. This can extend to aspects like the size and location of the school.

The United States is a large country. There are many universities spread out across the country that may be right for you, so you might start with where in the U.S. you'd most like to live. If you prefer a warm climate near the beach, look at schools in California or Florida. If you enjoy the mountains, schools in Colorado or Montana would be worth checking out. Take into account the many different types of U.S. landscapes when choosing a school for your master's degree.

The size of the school is also an important factor. Universities in the U.S. have student populations ranging from a couple thousand students to tens of thousands of students. Decide which size fits you best, but know that both can offer a quality education.

Faculty and Staff

The universities are well-respected, in part, because many of the best professors teach and conduct research in the schools. As a graduate student you will have more opportunities for direct contact with these professors than you did as an undergraduate. You will have the opportunity to learn from as well as possibly work with your professors on their projects and research.

Before you pick a school, consider researching the faculty and staff. Find out if those are the people you want as your guides through your master's program. As with any other big decision, it's best to "shop around" before making the final choice.


Graduate school is expensive in the U.S. Some universities offer scholarships and grants specifically for international students, but sometimes obtaining this financial aid can be difficult. There are options to assist you in paying for school, but you'll definitely want to take some time to figure out a way to finance your education before coming to the U.S.

In addition to tuition, you will also need to pay for housing, food, utilities, and other living expenses. Try to find roommates who are also earning their master's degrees—this can help you cut your costs significantly.

Language Barriers

Consider possible language barriers when choosing your university. If you cannot speak English very well, it's possible you may have a hard time in the U.S. Very few Americans speak a second language fluently, and they may not be able to assist you. To assess your proficiency in the English language, take the TOEFL or the IELTS. Either of these tests will give you an idea about how well you would cope in a country that primarily speaks English.

Most universities have accommodations for non-native English speakers, but you shouldn't rely solely on the university for help. If you do decide to come to the U.S. and find you are not as proficient in English as you thought, don't worry. Your English will improve dramatically once you are immersed in the language.

You might also be interested in reading through this Studying Abroad Checklist before embarking on your master's program journey to the United States.


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